As the tours head into the clay court season, who should be buoyed the most by their mental toughness during Indian Wells and Miami?
Mental toughness is one of those often used but intangible concepts. Although there is no single agreed upon definition, it is reasonable to call a player mentally tough when he or she delivers in big situations.
Clutch stats are one of the ways we at the Game Insight Group try to focus on how players before under pressure. With a clutch percentage, every point won is weighed by its importance for the match out of the total importance. The clutch edge is a related stat that looks at the difference in clutch percentage minus the overall percentage. The edge gets a true clutch ability as it tells us when players perform better under pressure.
If we tally up all the clutch stats from matches at the 2018 Indian Wells and Miami, who are the stand out clutch performers?
Clutch Serve Stats for the ATP
On serve, a strong clutch percentage during the Sunshine Double was 69%. There were 11 male players who maintained this average across the event, Nick Kyrgios having the highest overall 79% and Miami winner, John Isner, coming in second with 75%.
Kyrgios and Federer were the only players among the top 11 on clutch serve who won fewer clutch service points than total service points (a negative clutch edge).
It was more common to choke than lift one’s game on serve. Only 5 male players had an average clutch edge over 3 percentage points, whole 12 players had clutch edges less than -3. Tiafoe was of the players who struggled on big points on serve (with an edge of -6%) suggesting that he could big an even bigger threat going forward if he could find a way to close that gap.
Clutch Return Stats for the ATP
On return, 45% or above were the highest clutch percentages seen over recent weeks. There were 10 players who had an average clutch return percentage in this range. Although the overall clutch return was much less for most players compared to clutch serve, there were more extreme clutch edges on return than on serve.
Only three players were among the top performers on clutch serve and return: Chung, Krajinovic, and Kyrgios.
Clutch Serve Stats for the WTA
On the WTA, strong clutch serve percentages were in the range of 62% and higher. Players among the top clutch servers included Indian Wells winner Naomi Osaka and surprise Miami semifinalist, Danielle Rose Collins.
Compared to the ATP, WTA players cluster much more closely when it comes to clutch edge on serve. There were only 5 players who had an edge differential of 3 percentage points in magnitude or more, 3 on the negative side and 2 on the positive side.
Clutch Return Stats for the WTA
There were stronger clutch return performances among the WTA players than the ATP players, with 7 women maintaining a median clutch return of 51% and higher. All of those players had a positive clutch edge as well.
Naomi Osaka makes the top clutch return performers, with 51%, and is joined by Miami finalist Jelena Ostapenko (51%) and Miami winner Sloane Stephens (55%). That lists suggests that clutch return was an especially strong indicator of outstanding performances during the Sunshine Premiers.